NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 20, 2020

by | Dec 20, 2020 | News, NHL | 20 comments

More details emerge for the 2020-21 season plus the latest in Ilya Kovalchuk, Braden Holtby, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: With the NHL and NHLPA reaching a tentative agreement for the 2020-21 season, the league’s focus shifts toward negotiations with the five provincial health authorities for the seven Canadian franchises.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

The league hopes those clubs will play this season in an all-Canadian division with each team hosting games in their own arenas. Darren Dreger reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly is directly involved in ongoing negotiations with the provinces.

Frank Seravalli reports the league has drafted strict protocols for road games. Players and team staff will be limited to the practice rink, game rink and hotel. No outside facilities, bars, restaurants or shops. All meals will be in the team hotel. No guests, no use of hotel fitness facilities, no housekeeping. There will also be assigned seats on chartered buses and planes, with in-flight catering where possible.

Ryan Rishaug reported last night the British Columbia government at this point remains unwilling to allow NHL teams to travel into the province for games. That might change as discussions continue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli also indicated the NHL’s travel protocols continue to change based on input from the provincial health authorities. The league seems willing to do as much as possible to ensure the Canadian teams can stage their games in their own arenas.

Based on recent reports it appears the Vancouver Canucks could be the only club unable to start the season at home. That could change depending on the course of the league’s discussions with the province of British Columbia.

The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports a league executive said one solution could be having the Canucks play their games in Edmonton until the situation is resolved. That would make more sense than moving all seven into one Canadian hub city or having them play all their games in the United States.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL has scheduled a conference call for its Board of Governors for noon ET today and for the general managers at 2 pm ET.

Mark your calendars, NHL fans. The 2021 free-agent market is slated to open on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet as to a tentative date for the 2021 trade deadline. It’s usually held 40 days before the last day of the regular season. If that calculation remains in place for this season, March 29 would be trade deadline day.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the opt-out deadline to participate in this season for players on last year’s non-playoff teams is Dec. 24, with Dec. 27 for the others. Group II free agents (RFAs) must be signed by Feb. 11 to be eligible to play this season. Players on one-year contracts can extend on March 12.

THE SCORE: The San Jose Sharks will be hosting training camp and start the regular season in Arizona owing to COVID-19 restrictions in California’s Santa Clara County.

RDS.CA: A report out of Russia indicates Ilya Kovalchuk could return to the KHL for the coming season. The 37-year-old Kovalchuk reportedly hasn’t found any takers in the NHL free-agent market. He played in the KHL from 2012 to 2018 with St. Petersburg SKA. The report suggests he’ll sign with Avangard Omsk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A once-dominant scorer, Kovalchuk struggled with the Los Angeles Kings upon his return to the NHL in 2018 and was bought out of his contract last fall. He showed flashes of his high-scoring form during a brief tenure with the Montreal Canadiens until traded to the Washington Capitals, where he was pretty much invisible during the Capitals’ disappointing performance in the 2020 playoffs.

SPORTSNET: After the design for his new mask was criticized as cultural appropriation, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby and his mask designer are collaborating with an Indigenous artist on a new design.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed defenseman Oliver Kylington to a one-year, two-way contract worth $787,500 at the NHL level.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Former Sabres defenseman Nathan Paetsch has retired after 17 professional seasons. Paetsch played the bulk of his career in the AHL with the Rochester Americans, Grand Rapids Griffins and Syracuse Crunch. He spent parts of five NHL seasons with the Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Paetsch in his future endeavors.


  1. Anyone like to hazard a guess as to why it’s the British Columbia government is the only one seemingly digging in its heels so far?

    • I would venture to guess the BC Democratic Party has something to do wit it

      • The ONLY one in Canada at this time.

      • Perhaps Saskatoon would be a good location for the Canucks. The building has had NHL exhibition games before & fits in well for geography. Food for thought.

    • Give it a rest George. Bonnie Henry is the Provincial Health Officer and is doing a fantastic job despite a lunatic fringe that throws stones from the sidelines.

      Posters on this site only need a keyboard to post opinions about hockey that no one in the NHL pays attention to and shouldn’t because it is just for fun.

      Managing a deadly pandemic in uncharted territory is something that requires medical expertise. Bonnie has even been subject to death threats for making the best calls science requires.

      She’s the one the BC Government is listening to and while she doesn’t read this site and would shrug off criticism here, she doesn’t need it. None of our public health officials do.

      You’ve been very supportive of health measures throughout this pandemic, George, and I am speaking to you directly because you know better. Others, like the perpetually obnoxious and clueless Wendel aren’t worth the time.

      • What I was suggesting was – without naming them – is that the only NDP government in the country is the only one with the gonads to tell the NHL to buzz off. How did you interpret what I said?

      • Did I misread you? Sorry, I just had finished reading an article on Bonnie and the crap she has taken by the loon brigade so if I mistakenly imported to what you were saying, I apologize. Certainly you are clear to me now.

  2. Probably don’t want people from provinces with 4x and 5x as many cases traveling into BC. BC hasn’t reported any new cases in last few days either. And He’ll, who wants a Maple Leaf in their town anyway? Go Wings ha.

    • Agreed David

      Numbers abundantly higher in Ont and Que…. but rates per 100,000 pop are different

      BC still getting about 600 new cases a day

      Fingers crossed that these numbers across this nation, continent, planet start coming down very soon

      • From your posts George I would say you’ve forgotten pretty much everything you may have known about hockey, yet you arrogantly press on with your insults of Az and Ed. The government isn’t our friend and maybe you need then to run your life for you, but most don’t.

  3. Personally I hope the league gives the whole nation the big middle digit and has the teams playing down south. If governments want to be obstructionists then by all means stop rewarding them with tax revenue

    • I didn’t think it was possible but you know even less about politics than you do about hockey …

    • Don’t feed the trolls George!

    • I’ve probably forgotten more about hockey than that poisonous twit will ever know, Icebear

      He LOVES to portray himself as a hard-ass – but I’d bet dollars to donuts he’s a twerp.

  4. Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie report the 2021 NHL trade deadline will be April 12. The 2021 NHL Draft is slated for July 23 and 24.

  5. Not sure why provincial governments aren’t agreeing to NHL games in their cities. The safety protocols would be at the highest level, much higher than those for regular folks.
    I’ll be surprised if the All-Canadian division doesn’t happen.

    • It’s the optics BCLeafFan. Believe it or not, but a poll done a couple of years back showed that there were almost twice as many sports-indifferent people in the country than there were “fanatics.”

      As I said the other day, Legault has decreed a firm lockdown in Quebec from Dec 25 to mid-January with NO indoor gatherings and only in groups of 8 or less outdoors. Fines will be levied regardless of “precautions” taken (restaurants, gyms, etc.) against violators. Ontario is seriously considering the same approach – we’ll know tomorrow.

      Rising numbers in both provinces are one catalyst – another is the news out of the U.K. that a mutant strain is accelerating infections in the south of England. PM Johnson, who had been considering a relaxing of the criteria over the holidays, is now headed in the opposite direction with a total shutdown.

      How would it look to the majority in Quebec and Ontario, for example, to have rules in place barring any indoor gathering and maximum of 8 outdoors, if three pro teams were allowed to gather indoors with upwards of 40 to 50?

      The Raptors are playing their pre-season games in Tampa. Infections are running through NFL teams.

      • I get all that, George, but if the same covid protocols as the NHL proposes were in place for everyone, the case numbers would drop like a rock. The league is ready to pay the whole shot, as far as I can make out, so there really isn’t a downside.
        The longer this drags on, the less interest I have in any kind of hockey this year, and I’m pretty sure the casual fan has already checked out.
        Enough already.

  6. there will probably be very few trades at the deadline. most players will have to quarantine after the trade, so they won’t be able to play with their new team for at least a week. I bet the team you see by opening night will basically be the same team by the end of the season

    any comment on the idea of pushing the draft from June to December, so scouts can actually see the players. It would stink for Seattle but makes sense, especially if most of Jr hockey doesn’t start until next fall

  7. From your posts George I would say you’ve forgotten pretty much everything you may have known about hockey, yet you arrogantly press on with your insults of Az and Ed thinking u know everything and all should agree with your opinions. The government isn’t our friend and maybe you need them to run your life for you, but competent people don’t. I guess this is to be expected when you feed at the government trough your entire life.